Second Sunday after Christmas 01/02/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

 

The Second Sunday after Christmas Day  

… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…

 

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 

            Peace on each one who comes in need;

                        Peace on each one who comes in joy.

                        Peace on each one who offers prayers;

                        Peace on each one who offers song.

                        Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,

                        Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One. 

Opening Prayer

Son of God, Child of Mary,

born in the stable at Bethlehem,

be born again in us this day,

that through us the world may know the wonder of your love.

Hear this prayer for your name’s sake. Amen.

 

The Gospel                                                                                                 Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

 

Poem: “Nativity”                                                               By John Donne (b.1572)  

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

Meditation

The second Sunday of Christmas provides us an opportunity to continue to ponder in awe the deep mystery of Incarnation.

Theologian Karl Rahner says this: “Through this fact, that God has become human, time and human life are changed. Now God’s self is on our very earth, where he is no better off than we and where he receives no special privileges, but our every fate. That the infinity of God should take upon itself human narrowness, that bliss should accept the mortal sorrow of the earth, that life should take on death—this is the most unlikely truth.”

Where theology leaves off, poetry and music may enter in. The poem by John Donne draws us into the mystery of immensity cloistered in the womb, to envision with the eyes of faith how “he fills all place, yet none holds him.” And ends with an invitation to go into Egypt, a foreign land, with Mary.

A powerful musical expression of the Incarnation is Morton Lauridsen’s exquisite 1994 setting of O Magnum Mysterium. Although often performed by large choirs to great effect, this performance seems more personal and intimate, with just eight voices singing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS4_l0osCx8

 

Questions for Reflection

What expressions and images of the Incarnation do you find most powerful and meaningful at this time?

What responses do these expressions invite and inspire?

Prayers

We bring before God someone whom we have met or remembered today

We bring to God someone who is hurting tonight and needs our prayer

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world

We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection

We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives

We name before God those who have died.

Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.                 

Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.

May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.

 Poems and Reflections this month offered by: Frank Nowell

Posted in The Still Point.